Olivetti demonstrates PC entertainment device

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Olivetti unveiled its Envision line of home computers on Tuesday at the Live '95 consumer electronics show in London. The machines, which go on sale across Europe in mid-October, represent the latest attempt by computer makers to link home computing with other forms of popular entertainment.

Unlike most personal computers, Envision can be connected either to a TV or a computer monitor. A wireless infrared keyboard with built-in trackball mouse works up to 16 feet away. If Envision is left switched on in standby mode, the machine can also answer the phone and store voice messages directly on its hard drive.

The Italian-made Envision line comes in three models, costing between $2,238 and $3,038, not including a monitor. The computers include Windows '95 as well as Olivetti's proprietary graphical interface, which gives users a view of a room. Users then click on various objects to perform tasks. Clicking on a newspaper lying on the floor, for example, brings news stories to the screen.

Olivetti hopes to sell 100,000 units in Europe this year. The company has no plans yet to sell Envision outside Europe, but is talking to potential partners outside the computer industry to help launch Envision in the U.S., said Peter Howes, divisional manager of Olivetti U.K.

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